Thursday, September 9, 2010

Late Summer on the Prairie Part 2

In my backyard prairie, I have several other plants that become more interesting and attractive to wildlife in late summer and fall.

This snow on the prairie, Euphorbia bicolor, is blooming among Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans, the red flowers of autumn sage, Salvia greggii, and the sky blue flowers of pitcher sage, Salvia azurea 'grandiflora'.

Eryngo, Eryngium leavenworthii, is blooming in an electric shade of purple. The bracts surrounding the flowers are very spiny, but they do not keep monarch butterflies and other pollinators away from the flowers. Notice the little white spider on one of the bracts?

The flowers on this patch of switch grass, Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues', glow in the morning sunlight. The switch grass, as well as my other prairie grasses, will provide height and motion in the garden, as well as food and shelter for the prairie wildlife, until I cut the stalks to the ground in February or March.

On the edge of the backyard prairie, a large American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is covered in clusters of bright purple berries.

Mockingbirds love the berries of American beautyberry. The birds eat the berries almost as quickly as they ripen. This mother mockingbird and her young fledgling (hidden by the leaves) spend much of the day in the branches of the beautyberry. She used to have two babies, but a neighborhood cat got one of them. Note to neighbors: Keep your cats indoors or train them to hunt only rabbits, squirrels and grackles.

Before long, the mockingbirds will get an urge for some spicy food and they will fly over to my chile pequin plants, Capsicum annuum, for the little red peppers. Amazingly, they swallow the peppers whole.

If your late summer landscape looks a little boring, add some of these late season plants to your garden. You will not only have colorful flowers and berries in your garden, but you are sure to attract colorful butterflies and birds as well.


  1. Bluestem, did you see this? :(

  2. What a wonderful place you have to live. You've done a terrific job balancing the softer grasses with the more spiky plants. Your garden needs to be in a magazine, maybe Garden Design!
    Happy Growing.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston


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